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The employability agenda is informed by recognition of the relationship between work and health. This section summarises some of the recent research that shows work benefits health and well-being.
This independent review, by G. Waddell and A.K. Burton (2006), was commissioned by the Department of Work and Pensions to inform the government’s public health and welfare reform agendas.
The study looked at the scientific evidence on the relationship between work and health and well-being, focusing on working age adults and the common health problems that account for the majority of long-term incapacity and sickness absence.
The evidence clearly demonstrates that being in work is generally beneficial to people’s physical and mental health and well-being, although this is dependent on the nature and quality of the work being undertaken.
Full copies of the research report can be found on the links and resources section of the Department for Work and Pensions website (external link).
A summary of the main research findings continues below.
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There is a strong link between unemployment and deterioration in physical and mental health and well-being.
Unemployment is shown to increase rates of sickness, disability and mental health problems, and to decrease life expectancy. It also results in an increased use of medication, medical services, and higher hospital admission rates.
Returning to work from unemployment results in significant health improvements and increases the self-esteem of individuals. The improvements in health that result from returning to work can reverse the negative health effects of unemployment.
Being in work is shown to be beneficial to those with ongoing health conditions. Work can help people recover from sickness and reduces the risk of long-term incapacity.
The positive health effects of work mean that sick and disabled people should be supported to return to, or remain, in work if their health condition permits it.
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